Here’s some old school fun that never goes out of style. Your kids will love to take a ride on one of these classic carousels that delight all ages. Chicagoland has several carousels that offer both a peek into their historic past and fun rides for kids today.
The Carousel at Brookfield Zoo
Cost: $3 non-members, $1.50 members
Where: 8400 W. 31st St., Brookfield
Animal lovers will have a tough time deciding whether they want to ride a dolphin, tiger, anteater or ladybug. There are dozens of other kinds of animals, too, like anteaters and a warthog, and riders have 72 awesome options to choose from. While it’s difficult to take your eyes off the 54-foot high structure, don’t miss the details in the wrought iron railing surrounding the carousel pavilion. It features panels showing the location in the zoo of each real animal, photos of the real and carousel animals and fun poems about the animals. This carousel is heated, making rides possible all year!
Cost: $5 non-residents, $4 residents, kids under 1 are free
Where: Jack A. Claes Pavilion, 1000 Wellington Ave., Elk Grove Village
This carousel, maintained by the Elk Grove Park District, is great for littles because at 28 feet tall, it’s big enough to be impressive, but not overwhelming. It features 18 jumping horses and a swan carriage. If you love a theme like we do, it’s located next to the Jumps n Jiggles playground which has a big top motif. It’s recommended for children under age 8. The admission also includes unlimited carousel rides and playground admission.
Cost: Included with park admission
Where: 1 Great America Parkway, Gurnee
This carousel is tied for the largest carousel in the country with its twin, which is located at Great America Park in California. This double-decker carousel is hard to miss — it stands 10 stories tall and is one of the first things visitors to Six Flags Great America see upon entering the park. More than 100 guests can ride at a time, and at night it glows thanks to more than 1,000 lights. Most of the animals are horses, but see if you can spot the pigs, rabbits and ostriches, too.
Where: 2001 N. Clark St., Chicago
Rare and endangered species are the stars of the show at both the Lincoln Park Zoo and its carousel. This charming carousel features 48 hand-carved animals, many of which can be found in the zoo. There are also two chariots for those who like to be more stationary, or for littles not quite old enough to ride a giraffe. (They are also great options for parents looking to rest weary legs.)
Where: 600 E. Grand Ave., Chicago
Designed especially for Navy Pier, the carousel in Pier Park harkens back to the 1920s. Paintings at the top of the carousel depict the history of the Pier. The carousel features 36 animals, mostly horses, but be on the lookout for the dragon! Children wanting to ride solo must be at least 42 inches tall, otherwise, they need to be accompanied by an adult. The admission includes the carousel and the Light Tower, both of which are operating through early fall.
Cost: $9 non-residents, $6 residents
Where: 100 S. Barnes Road, Aurora
Wishing for the good old days? Riding the old-fashioned carousel at Blackberry Farm feels like a step back in time at this living history museum. It’s similar to what you would have found at a country carnival many decades ago. The merry-go-round is not the only option for unplugged fun. Check out the pony rides and paddle boats, and don’t miss the Big Rock Steam Train that circles the property. Admission includes all rides and attractions. There’s also a free day on Aug. 7!
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